Arizona police to receive sex trafficking training
In the past several years, a growing number of Arizona police agencies have operated on an understanding that women and girls who are paid for sex are victims of sex trafficking rather than accomplices of the men who buy and sell them.
This messaging will be soon be built into the curriculum of every new law-enforcement recruit in Arizona, according to a statement released Thursday by Gov. Jan Brewer’s office.
The announcement comes at the recommendation of Brewer’s Task Force on Human Trafficking, a group of advocates and politicians asked to identify opportunities to combat the crime in Arizona.
Starting in January, Arizona police academy training will include nine classroom hours on sex trafficking and exams on performance objectives for the 700-odd new officers that graduate each year. The Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board is additionally creating a sex-trafficking video to be distributed to agencies statewide to reach existing officers.
“There’s a paradigm shift that we’re acknowledging in this arena,” said AZPOST Executive Director Lyle Mann. “There’s the myth of prostitution being a victimless crime, and that’s simply not true.”
Few social issues have reaped as much political attention in recent months as sex trafficking. A host of public figures including Cindy McCain, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton and Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne have affixed their names to the cause.
And earlier this year, Brewer passed sweeping legislation that adds sentencing muscle against pimps and johns and provides sex-trafficking victims a legal defense against the crime of prostitution.
Thursday’s statement additionally launched a website aimed to educate Arizonans on the crime, www.EndSexTrafficking.AZ.gov.
Horne’s office released a team of sports-themed public-service announcements earlier this year, and the Phoenix City Council signed off on a five-year blueprint to combat the issue in Arizona’s capital.
“It’s a moral imperative that we do everything in our power to protect our state and our citizens from this horrendous crime against humanity,” Brewer said in a statement. “Together, we can shine a light on human trafficking — educating and equipping the public and peace officers alike — and work to end the sexual exploitation of Arizona’s most vulnerable.”